Those of us “of a certain age” cannot read those words without immediately beginning to hear a famous 5-chord progression in our heads. If you do not belong to that “certain age,” just google Byrds, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Then, turn up the volume and enjoy a brief return to 1965 as early folk rock band, The Byrds, plays its cover of Pete Seeger’s hit song, based on Ecclesiastes 3.
This update is about seasons and turning. But first, the photo, above: it comes from an end-of-the-visit celebration evening gathering of pastors and leaders from the GGBI with a delegation of global consultants and area directors from International Ministries. “GGBI” stands for Gabungan Gereja Baptis Indonesia (“association” or “union” of Indonesian Baptist Churches). Our Indonesian sisters and brothers are incredibly warm and gracious hosts… and also a lot of fun! Our visit was flavored with much prayer, …and also much laughter!
Just one highlight from the visit:
Here we are with GGBI leaders as they deepen their relationship with a local Islamic University. Relations between Baptists and the largest Muslim community in this majority (87%) Muslim country are excellent. And both sides are eager to deepen and strengthen them. Our world needs such models of mutual respect.
Meanwhile, about seasons and turning. My “wandering Aramean” (apologies to Dt 26:5) season of itinerant teaching is coming to an end. I will still make occasional international trips with Cathy. Lord willing, some of them will include a bit of teaching. But I will not be doing so as a global servant supported by IM. After 40 years of service with IM, I will finally be retiring. So, with very deep gratitude for all of the love, prayer, encouragement and financial support that you have provided through the years to make this “visiting professor” ministry possible, I want you to know that IM will cease to accept gifts for my support after December 31, 2023. Thank-you-thank-you-thank-you for all you have done!
If you want to continue to make cross-cultural leadership training through IM a part of what God is doing through you in the world, I have many wonderful friends and colleagues to recommend for your support.
Recently endorsed or appointed global servants who are building their partnership networks include:
Rodney Ragwan – I first met Rodney in 1997 in Durban, where he was leading one of South Africa’s Baptist church denominations composed of whose heritage connected with our historic partners in India. He has since come to the U.S., completed a doctorate and worked both at Eastern University and as IM’s director of mobilization (recruitment of new global servants). Rodney is currently building his partnership network in order to serve as a global consultant for theological education. His work will assist partners as they develop ways of thinking and talking about Christ that are uniquely suited to their own cultural context.
Toya Richards – Toya is currently building her support network in order to serve at South Africa’s Cape Town Baptist Seminary, where her long experience in communications and ecumenical cooperation will help her both to teach and to extend the seminary’s work in Biblical justice.
In addition to the recently-endorsed and appointed global servants working in theological education, there are many veteran IM global servants working in this kind of ministry who would be delighted to welcome additional support:
Carlos Bonilla and Mayra Giovanetti have served in Chile, Spain and Nicaragua, and now assist partners throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to train leaders. Waleska Febres does formal and informal theological education with indigenous peoples in Colombia. Dan and Sarah Chetti do formal and informal theological education in Lebanon and the MENA region. Mercy Gonzalez-Barnes is both teaching and providing vitally important leadership in the innovative IM-Palmer Seminary partnership that makes the online Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program available to Spanish and Portuguese speakers throughout the Americas. Amanda and Jon Good work with Hungarian Baptists in many ways—including theological education. Likewise, Sue Hegarty’s diverse contribution to the life and work of Costa Rican Baptists includes informal theological education. For nearly forty years, Patty and Tim Long have served with IM in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, where Tim has helped to anchor the faculty of the “God With Us” Seminary in Mexicali; Tim also plays a crucial role in assisting Latin American students to succeed in the online MTS program. Kihomi Ngwemi and Nzunga Mabudiga have had a big impact in Northern Haiti on many fronts, including theological education and informal leadership training; they are temporarily displaced across the border (due to social upheaval in Haiti) and serving in the Dominican Republic. Aaron and Valerie Osterbrock are serving with Malaysia’s Sabah Theological Seminary. J.D. and Rhonda Reed have engaged in both health (Rhonda) and theological education (J.D.) work in Bolivia and, through J.D.’s deep involvement with the online MTS program, throughout the Americas. Ruth Vindas serves at Costa Rica’s Latin American Biblical University.
I cannot thank you enough for faithfully walking alongside and praying with me through many journeys and service opportunities over the years! Thank you for making the work God does through me a part of what God is doing through you! Please join me in praying that the Lord will continue to bring fruit for the Reign of God through all that you and I have invested in the mission of Christ over the years!
Love and blessings to you!
P.S. This month I completed my last scheduled ministry trip of the year. It was to attend the semi-annual meeting of the board of directors of the International Baptist Study Centre (IBTS) in Amsterdam. At this meeting I passed the baton to my friend and colleague, Rev. Dr. Cheryl Dudley (Executive Minister of the ABC of Metro New York), who will represent American Baptists going forward. The Board of Directors of IBTS has warmly welcomed Cheryl aboard and I am sure she will make a great contribution to this important ministry.